STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

California Firefighters to Exceed Budget Just as Delta Fire Explodes

California's firefighting agency is about to exceed its budget and needs $234 million more, Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday.

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 4:21 PM

By NOAH BERGER and PAUL ELIAS , Associated Press

SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. (AP) — Truckers abandoned big-rigs and motorists screamed in fear as they came dangerously close to an explosive wildfire that shut down about 45 miles of a major California interstate near the Oregon border that authorities were desperately trying to reopen.

In a video, a passenger in a vehicle screams: "Oh my God, I want to go!" as nearby trees burst into flames.

"I can't breathe," the woman says, sobbing. "Please, guys, come put it out."

The fire erupted Wednesday afternoon in a rural area and devoured timber and brush on both sides of Interstate 5 as it nearly tripled in size overnight, officials said Thursday.

Elsewhere in the state, a fire raging in the Sierra Nevada had grown to more than 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) after shutting down stretches of U.S. 395, State Route 108 and the Pacific Crest Trail along the eastern spine of California.

The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, campgrounds and other areas were evacuated Wednesday. Ranchers were told to prepare to move livestock out of the area in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The two fires Thursday were raging just weeks after a blaze in the Redding area killed eight people and burned about 1,100 homes in a frightening start to the fire season.

California's insurance commissioner said Thursday that victims of that fire and one in the Mendocino area — the two largest blazes in the state so far this year — have filed more than 10,000 claims so far totaling $845 million.

The two fires destroyed or damaged a combined 8,800 homes and 329 businesses.

"The worst may be yet to come," Commissioner David Jones warned at a San Francisco news conference, noting that California wildfires are typically more destructive after Sept. 1.

California's firefighting agency is about to exceed its budget and needs $234 million more, Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday.

The agency spent $432 million through the end of August and had only about $11 million left, Pimlott wrote. Cal Fire would use some of the money to add firefighters and helicopters, he said.

The Legislature budgets for firefighting based on the historical average costs. Cal Fire has requested extra money in seven of the past 10 years, but never this early, according to the Department of Finance.

The blaze Thursday along Interstate 5 has blackened 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), prompting mandatory evacuations. It was moving rapidly but was still far from any large towns.

Officials from a number of agencies were meeting Thursday to determine if they can reopen the highway, a key route for commercial trucks, California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Morton said.

The highway runs north from the Mexico border through California, Oregon and Washington state to the border with Canada.

The scattered homes and cabins in and around Shasta-Trinity National Forest were under evacuation orders, from the community of Lakehead north to the Siskiyou County line, said Chris Losi, a spokesman for the forest.

"It isn't a lot of people," he said.

The blaze was human-caused, officials said, without indicating whether it was arson or an accident.

About 17 big-rigs were abandoned along the interstate and at least four caught fire, Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Foster of the California Highway Patrol's Mount Shasta office told the Los Angeles Times. At least two trucks were partially melted.

U.S. Forest Service workers helped the driver of one flaming truck to safety. Truckers, firefighters and others aided more drivers.

"There's vehicles scattered all over," Brandon Vaccaro of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Redding Record Searchlight. "Whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while."

About 45 miles (72 kilometers) of I-5 were closed in both directions, Losi said. The blaze also delayed Amtrak's Coast Starlight train service between Sacramento and Oregon.

The city of Dunsmuir, with about 1,500 residents, was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the flames. Residents were urged to be prepared to leave if the fire threatened.

___

Elias reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper contributed from Sacramento.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42808

Reported Deaths: 664
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9292163
Marion5929108
Washington583877
Umatilla337645
Clackamas317265
Lane241927
Malheur192738
Jackson17076
Deschutes113613
Yamhill100115
Linn81615
Polk65715
Jefferson6059
Morrow5457
Lincoln51713
Union4682
Benton4456
Klamath4173
Douglas3598
Wasco34816
Hood River2771
Columbia2691
Josephine2693
Coos2510
Clatsop2440
Baker1253
Crook1102
Tillamook700
Curry581
Wallowa462
Lake380
Harney340
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 914888

Reported Deaths: 17460
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3020777027
Riverside669931303
San Bernardino633671073
Orange589801454
San Diego55210877
Kern33928416
Fresno30969439
Sacramento25601491
Santa Clara24425392
Alameda23471462
San Joaquin21729489
Contra Costa18763242
Stanislaus17714398
Tulare17590288
Ventura14330165
Imperial12967336
San Francisco12189140
Monterey1141990
San Mateo11198159
Santa Barbara9827122
Merced9531155
Sonoma9494136
Kings826483
Solano744576
Marin7096129
Madera503774
Placer420757
San Luis Obispo417432
Yolo321959
Butte309552
Santa Cruz280825
Napa196616
Shasta195431
Sutter186512
San Benito144215
El Dorado13514
Yuba132310
Mendocino113621
Tehama8928
Lassen7661
Lake69816
Glenn6713
Nevada6238
Humboldt56810
Colusa5516
Calaveras34218
Amador33116
Tuolumne2754
Inyo23115
Siskiyou2050
Del Norte1801
Mono1802
Mariposa792
Plumas700
Modoc360
Trinity270
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 74°
Brookings
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 67°
Crater Lake
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 67°
Grants Pass
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 72°
Klamath Falls
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 67°
Cold morning, warm afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events